When Fear Gets in the Way

All the colors of the rainbow

Fear is the natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.”

– Pema Chödrön, “When Things Fall Apart”

I have been getting very tired of being afraid. Afraid of pandemic life and afraid of a culture on fire and afraid of the unknown future. But this week, I discovered that it can take something so seemingly innocuous to make me look fear in the face and say, “Nuts to this!!” Something as simple as an order of 14 colored sparkling gel pens from Amazon.





I. Love. Colored pens. Gel pens, ink pens, ball point pens, brush pens. They please me. A lot.

Last week, I succumbed to the temptation to head over to Amazon and get a new set of  glittery gel pens. I would treat myself. A pandemic reward.

They would arrive on Sunday, no less! Yes, the U.S. Post Office delivers on Sundays for Amazon. At least they have before. Several times. But not this Sunday…

I had waited eagerly all day. But no pens. By 10 p.m. I got the message that “Sorry, they’re not going to arrive until tomorrow or Tuesday.” Dang. Then came the message that the P. O. had tried to deliver but were unable to, so they had returned it to the Post Office to be picked up!!! 

Let that sink in. I would have to go to the Post Office and enter the building with dozens of possible COVID-19 carriers to pick up 14 sparkly gel pens! 

Well, of course that was ludicrous. What wise, sane person would even think of such a thing?

But I wanted those pens, and I wanted them NOW! I became a child, throwing a tantrum, and I watched myself doing it! Over 14 pens! 

By bedtime, my tantrum overtook any hope of getting to sleep. I was absolutely furious. About 14 pens that I couldn’t have now!

You have to understand. My big city (130,000) post office always seems to be teeming with people with large packages and small, waiting in a long line, and sometimes there are not enough officials at their stations to keep the line moving. Patience is an imperative there. My imagination was based on solid experience.

The next morning, I braved the Mayo clinic to get blood drawn and to meet with my internist. Protocols were exacting, the waiting room was empty and masks were everywhere. I felt safe.

On the way home, I thought I just might drive by the post office and see how many people were there. The usual packed parking lot would tell me a lot. Even I was smart enough to know I might have to drive off home. Without my pens.

But there were maybe half a dozen cars there. A few people were coming out, mail in their hands. They’d just picked up their mail and left.

I took the giant leap. I put on my toughest mask – an N-9 gift from a friend – and my gloves. I thought I’d just check and see what was inside… And what was inside was a clear picture of a post office that had, of course, developed its own safety measures weeks ago. One person was in front of me. One behind. A third came along just as I was called to the window, which was plexiglass from one end to another, with just small openings to exchange any merchandise. One woman was taking care of the abbreviated line.

In five minutes, I had my cherished pens, held in the familiar Amazon blue and white quilted plastic envelope, clutched in my eager hand, on my way home.

My fears had been for naught. The truth, it turned out, was that I’d had little to fear! I had wasted so much time and sleep and anger over nothing.

Now, why tell this silly little story, you may ask.

Because it is as clear a lesson as I have right now about the power of fear

and the power of letting it control the story of what the future holds. 

Because I learned from this little event that fear can so easily overwhelm our hearts.

That fear can cause us to fret and fume and draw conclusions that are flat out wrong.

It can blind us to seeing hope and possibilities and solutions and truths that we haven’t noticed.

Because I was reminded that our little inward child can make mountains out of molehills.

And that our elderhood can still be suddenly overcome by the pressures of so much that is unknown. 

So I have extended myself some grace. 

And I have been journaling with my vivid pens! And boy, do they sparkle!!!

My inner child is ever so happy! And I am sleeping well again.












19 thoughts on “When Fear Gets in the Way

    1. Hello, dear Ellen! I’m so glad I checked my email before getting into bed! I hope you’re doing really well. I rather envy your wonderful daughter, having her amazing mother still around gracing the world!! We elders have to stick together – the Martha Moms!


  1. When I saw the header image in your post come across my email, I thought it was a collection of capped test tubes for medical tests–which goes to show where my head has been. What a perfect metaphor for my unreasoning fear that they turned out to be sparkly gel pens and not vials of contagion!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha! Oh, dear, so glad that a bit of whimsy can overcome those entrenched fears that we’re all carrying around these days! I know that writing that story lifted my own spirits unexpectedly. Here’s hoping our “unreasoning fear” takes its place in the back seat while we take a deep breath and forge ahead!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so glad you shared this story! I think most of us are struggling with fear right now, especially of the unknown. But as you point out, there is no good reason to allow that fear to rule us. Because when we are ruled by fear, we are robbed of the joy that life can offer, even in times like these. PS: Enjoy those pens! You do deserve them!


    1. That fear stuff is so sly! Hopefully each time we overcome one, we’re made a bit more aware of its wiles and can find ways to cut it off at the pass! We sure have been given a ton of opportunities, right? And…yes, oh yes, I am enjoying those pens! So hard to decide what color I’m going to favor…lovely problem to have!


  3. So happy you got your pens! Fear can really take hold of us…one thing, and then another, and before you know it, we are standing still in our tracks. I am proud of you! This is such a stressful time for all of us, but these little ‘leaps’ of facing up to our fears are empowering.


    1. Thanks for your enthusiastic support, Linda!! I’ve been walking a lot lately…maybe it will help me leap a little higher! In the meantime, I’ll take what I can get!


  4. 😊🙄 It does my heart good to know that another elder makes a mountain out of a molehill once in a while. Thanks once again.

    Aloha, Joyce



  5. I too gave myself a pandemic reward–four new plants from Ace Hardware to put in the front yard, near the porch, to bring a burst of bright color. I went to the store and made my selections (also bought lots of other things, too). I am relatively pleased with the stores protocols to keep us safe. I go to few of them, but the ones I frequent feel quite safe for which I am most thankful.


    1. Yay for your new plants!! I do not have a green thumb, so I have to enjoy everyone else’s! And I’m glad you’re experiencing the same thing I am…most places are geared for safety. Add our own carefulness, and we’re doing fine.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.